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February 25, 2021

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Shanghai speeds up pilot digital currency program

E-yuan payment is now available on vending machines at some local Metro stations as Shanghai accelerates the pilot program to test the digital currency.

The program is still limited to a small group — it is reported that banks involved in the program are asking their staff and clients to use the trial, and only selected people can buy products, like soft drinks and snacks, from designated vending machines run by Shanghai-based Hey!See Co.

The vending machines supporting e-yuan payments are available at downtown Metro stations, including People’s Square, Xujiahui, Nanjing Road E. and Lujiazui. Not all machines accept the electronic currency.

The company was not immediately available for comment but a staff member said there were “a few” purchases via e-yuan at the Nanjing Road E. station while more were taking place at Lujiazui, where many financial institutions are located.

Shanghai is stepping up pilot applications of the digital yuan, outlined earlier this year in the local government’s work report.

During Shanghai’s annual Two Sessions, a political adviser proposed deep integration of the digital yuan pilot program into the city’s digital transformation.

Large-scale applications could be piloted in scenarios such as single-use prepaid cards, flexible employment payments and social security reform, the adviser said.

Last month, e-yuan was tested at Tongren Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.

In tandem with the People’s Bank of China, six top state-owned commercial banks are taking part in a digital currency testing program across the country. Moreover, cities including Shenzhen, Suzhou, Beijing and Chengdu have issued the new currency in the form of red envelopes to some residents.

Third-party platforms like and its subsidiary JD Tech have provided technical and service support to several local governments to help promote the pilot program.

A bank employee said that he had taken part in the e-yuan test program since the latter half of last year and had bought some daily necessities on by using the digital currency.

For the moment, only invited people can download the e-yuan app and use the digital currency; such a list has to be approved by the Shanghai headquarters of the PBOC, the bank employee added.

The Shanghai headquarters of the PBOC declined to disclose any details about the program while participating banks also declined comment.


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